2013 The National Football League mandated the usage of thigh and knee pads in 2013, yet most knee pads are already wafer-thin and smaller than a piece of bread. Thigh pads are only slightly larger. A helmet and shoulder pads are the only additional pieces of equipment necessary.
The idea is to reduce the chance of serious injury by reducing the surface area of contact between player and object. It also makes it easier for players to move around in the pocket or on the field.
Shoulder pads used to be as large as a dinner plate. Now they're about the size of a salt shaker. That change came about in 1983 when the NFL banned players from wearing padding under their jerseys. At the time, such a ban was seen as controversial because many fans believed that completely unprotected players were putting themselves in danger by not wearing body armor like football players today. The NFL originally allowed players to wear thin foam cups until 1996 when a more protective type of pad called "plastic" was introduced. These days, almost all players wear some form of shoulder protection.
Thigh pads used to be as large as a dinner plate.
Players in the National Football League are obliged to wear hip, thigh, and knee protectors. "It's about not wanting to be hampered in the NFL," he explained. We feel that an extra pad may allow a quick wide receiver six inches of separation from us in coverage, costing our team a score.
The first rule change for the 1994 season was the introduction of thigh pads for all players. The aim was to reduce injuries to the groin and thigh areas of footballers. Previously, only middle linebackers and defensive ends wore them. They must be worn under the shorts or pants, and can be made of foam rubber or steel. A player can be penalized 15 yards if he fails to wear them.
Thigh pads were originally designed by Dr. Robert Cade of the University of California, Berkeley, who also invented the headguard used in American football today. Cade's goal was to create a product that would prevent injuries to the head and neck area while playing football. He believed that since most injuries occurred during collisions at high speeds, it made sense to use equipment that would absorb some of these impact forces. In 1970, Dr. Cade submitted his patent for this invention to the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) for evaluation. The NFL approved the design of the device and required that all players using it on the field wear it during games.
There have been many improvements to thigh pads over time.
When opposed to the NCAA and high school football, the NFL has far less stringent padding restrictions. According to the Times, "all high school and NCAA players are required to wear hip, thigh, and knee pads, while hip protectors are just "suggested" under the NFL regulation." In addition, there is no limit on the number of helmet replacements that can be purchased by a player.
In fact, according to the Times, "NFL players are allowed to use hair products containing gel or pomade, which may increase risk of concussion. They can also use mouthpieces made from hard materials that could decrease sensitivity in their ears." The paper also notes that "the NFL does not require its players to undergo neurological exams before they are released by teams."
While there have been many improvements made for NFL players since it began in 1920, there is still more work to be done if we are to see another innovation such as the nickel defense (five defensive backs instead of two). As long as owners continue to be cheap, we will never see them spend money on player safety.
(While all high school and N.C.A.A. players are required to wear hip, thigh, and knee pads, hip pads are only "suggested" in the N.F.L. rule book.) "Nobody wears hip pads in the NFL," Eric Weddle, the veteran Ravens safety, remarked, chuckling. "That would be insane if I saw someone wearing hip protectors during an NFL game." "Absolutely absurd." Said former All-Pro linebacker Tom Jackson: "Hip pads were never worn in college or pro football before this year. It's ridiculous."
The idea of padding one's hips to prevent injuries is not new. Hip protectors have been used by athletes (mainly wrestlers) for decades because of their proven effectiveness in reducing injuries to the hips, legs, and back.
In fact, research has shown that hip protection can reduce injuries to the head, too. A study conducted by Dr. James Andrews (a top sports medicine doctor who has treated many major league baseball players) found that major league pitchers who used hip protectors had 23 percent fewer elbow surgeries than similar pitchers who didn't use hip protectors.
Another study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that college football players who wore hip protectors suffered 26% less trauma than those who didn't wear them.
They discovered that the thigh and knee pads didn't offer much protection in comparison to how much it hampered their movement and speed. And the same degree of protection was offered by those minimum, compression-style clothes. As you can see, football players are now wearing the least amount of protective gear possible.
The reason for this is simple: it's safer not to protect yourself too much from injury; instead, focus on getting back on your feet as soon as possible.
This new style of play has become known as "risk management". Rather than trying to avoid all risks, coaches and players understand that some things are just too dangerous to try and prevent them from happening. So instead of trying to protect themselves from hard hits with bulky equipment that gets in the way of their ability to move quickly or make decisions under pressure, they choose instead to let nature take its course.
Coaches have realized that even though certain types of injuries may be inevitable, taking other kinds of risks can be prevented through good coaching, strategy, and player safety equipment. For example, coaches will often tell their players not to go down without a fight because it makes recovering from injury more difficult. They know that if someone is going to get hurt anyway, it might as well be on their mind rather than their opponents' during the game.
Another example is the use of helmets.
"Shoulder pads and thigh and knee pads are obligatory equipment and must be worn by all players, excluding punters and kickers," according to The NFL's Uniform Policies Are Even Tighter Than You Thought. Knee and thigh pads were formerly optional; currently, a player who refused to use them may be ejected-...
Football equipment has always changed throughout time. In comparison to two decades ago, more wide receivers and defensive players now opt to wear smaller and thinner pads. Smaller pads, according to current NFL players, increase agility and quickness, freeing up a player to try to grab a pass or make a tackle. Thin pads are also less likely to be torn away from their protective covering.
The size of NFL pads has decreased over the years. This is because coaches and trainers believe that allowing for greater movement will help players avoid injury and maximize their ability on the field.
Currently, all non-kicking players (i.e., linemen) in the NFL are required to wear thigh-, knee- and hip-protectors. Thigh protectors cover the front of the thigh and include straps that go around the leg above the knee. Knee sleeves are attached to the thigh protector and extend down past the knee. The hips are protected by a piece of foam rubber that covers the area between the legs. This prevents players from being injured by their own cleats or other players' feet.
When the NFL first started, only kickers wore helmets. Players on offense had their heads exposed while defenders wore helmets with face masks. Over time, both sides wore uniforms that included shoulder pads, elbow pads, and pants with spandex material to allow for freedom of motion.